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Advance Praises for World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students

In this important book, Yong Zhao demonstrates persuasively that the race for higher test scores is harmful to our society. It contradicts the need to develop our young people’s creativity and entrepreneurship. If we ignore Yong Zhao’s warning, we risk hurtling back to an industrial model of standardization and conformity. What is needed most now, he reminds us, is freedom to think, freedom to invent, and freedom to differ from bureaucratically-devised norms.

Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.

“Many of us who study innovation struggle with ways to domesticate the unruly habits of creative entrepreneurs into a useful framework for education and learning. Dr. Yong Zhao’s World Class Learners brings the lessons of global entrepreneurs home to  the 21st century classroom, at a moment when those lessons are sorely needed. World Class Learners is a timely and important contribution to our understanding of the relationship between practical skills, creativity and technology in preparing young people for an entrepreneurial world.”

Rob Salkowitz, Author of Young World Rising: How Youth, Technology and Entrepreneurship are Changing the World from the Bottom Up

The 21st Century Education movement requires us to be more intentional and purposeful about the outcomes that will help our students become 21st century citizens and be successful in the new global economy. In his latest book, “World Class Learners”,   Yong Zhao has forcefully challenged us to focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.

Zhao has established himself as one of the most compelling voices in 21st century education. He is not an ed reformer, trying to improve our performance within the old system. He is truly an ed transformer, trying to articulate the outcomes that will matter most to our 21st century students. Yong Zhao continues to “lead the way”.

Ken Kay, CEO of EdLeader21, Founding President of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, co-author, The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts.

Yong Zhao has provided the most compelling case I have read that many mainly Western nations are on the wrong track in educational reform. The unrelenting focus on high-stakes testing, the narrowing of the curriculum and the continuing faith in outdated models of schooling ensure that they are short-changing students and weakening their societies and economies. The good news in this book is that there are outliers of preferred practice in schools around the world. The challenge is to provide schools with the autonomy to innovate with an entrepreneurial spirit and to resist the pressures for more centralized command-and-control approaches to change in schools.  I place a high personal priority on drawing the book to the attention of policymakers in Australia.

–Professor Brian Caldwell, Principal Consultant, Educational Transformations (Australia) and Professorial Fellow and former Dean of Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne

Yong Zhao is back, with a compelling case for the diversity and decentralization of learning that made the United States a well-spring of innovation in the Twentieth century. He puts the current push for national standards and assessment (the Common Core) into a global context, and debunks the idea that this will strengthen our competitiveness. To the contrary, his research shows that such attempts to standardize learning nearly always backfire, resulting in a narrow focus. He zeroes in on entrepreneurship, and the sorts of open-ended learning that produce creative problem-solvers most likely to succeed in the  competitive world of business. In spite of the obstacles our mania for test scores have put in their way, Dr. Zhao shows us how educators and students are succeeding on this path.

–Anthony Cody, author, Living in Dialogue blog, Education Week.

I have collected kaleidoscopes for years as a reminder we must view the world through different lenses. Dr. Yong Zhao in his new book, World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students has opened our eyes to a new and better way of helping our children learn.

Dr. Zhao provides the research and practical examples to demonstrate our educational systems over reliance on standards and testing that will not produce the citizens necessary to thrive in a hyper-competitive, disruptive, technologically-driven knowledge economy where ideas and jobs can and do move around the globe effortlessly. President Barack Obama got it right when he said, “The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.” Our schools would be a good place to start. Far too many of our public schools are insular, siloed, and chained to mandates focused on standardization and testing to be the creative, innovative change agents required to help our country prosper as the second decade of the 21st century global, knowledge economy unfolds.

Professor Zhao has provided a different and compelling view of what education can and should be if we want to remain the global, creative  entrepreneurial, innovation nation going forward. He clearly demonstrates the path we are on, will not take us where we need to go.

Policy-makers at every level need to read and act on the ideas in this book as though our future depends on it. Because it does.

Tom Watkins, writer and former Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In this work, Yong Zhao expands on his brilliant critique of high-stakes, standardized testing, shows how it is driving individuality and innovation out of our schools, and points out how the nations of China, S. Korea, and Singapore are trying to emulate our public school system at the same time as our govt. officials are trying to impose the E. Asian model on ours.

Yong Zhao also provides some practical and ingenious suggestions as to how our schools could further develop the sort of entrepreneurial education and inventive, project-based learning that our nation’s continued economic strength will rely upon.

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters

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